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76                              THE GAY GENIUS

of the Sung dynasty began to show distinctly degenerate traits in their
physiognomy. His young enthusiasm was fired by the high expecta-
tions that Wang Anshih had entertained of him, and from that con-
versation on, the young emperor was ready to go through fire and
water to carry through this man's political doctrines, even if it cost
him all the other ministers—which was what happened. Somehow"
images of the "Four Evil Monsters" appeared in the young emperor's
mind whenever the wise old ministers offered counsel and advised
caution against Wang Anshih's proposed reforms.

In February, 1069, when the Su brothers arrived at the capital, Wang
Anshih was appointed a vice-premier. The next two years were to see
an exodus of all the old ministers from the court, the purging of the
imperial censorate and the packing of it with Wang Anshih's own
underlings. No sooner had Wang assumed office than he began to
sweep the whole governmental household with a wide new broom. ^
Protest followed protest and the whole officialdom was thrown into
a deep turmoil. There was great and outspoken opposition from all
ministers of proved ability and respected character. The young
emperor could not understand it. Wang Anshih managed, however,
to make him see the turmoil and the uproar in the light of a desperate
struggle between the Emperor himself and the wicked ministers who
dared to oppose his will.

"Why all this hubbub?" asked the Emperor. "Why is it that all the
great ministers, censors, and scholars of the court are lined up against
the new reforms?"

"You should understand," said Wang Anshih, "that Your Majesty
is trying to follow the great teachings of the ancient emperors, but in
order to do this you have to overcome the reactionaries. It is inevit-
able, therefore, that there will be a struggle for power between Your
Majesty and the reactionaries. If they win in the struggle, the govern-
ment will be in their hands, and if Your Majesty wins, then the power
of the government will rest in the hands of Your Majesty. These selfish
men are trying to obstruct the will of Your Majesty in carrying out
the great teachings of the ancient emperors. That is why there is all
this hubbub."

Given the earnest desire of an ambitious young ruler to make his1?
country powerful and strong, and a premier who had an overweening
confidence in his own political and financial theories, the stage was
set far launching the radical reforms of Wang Anshih. The motives
of such reforms cannot be questioned. It is perfectly true that the
Sung dynasty, coming after fifty years of disunity and internecine
strife, had never known a strong government. Besides, the Shishias,
the Kitans (later called the Liaos), and the Kins had been making
constant inroads into China's northern border. Brief wars with these